Detroit tries to catch up in COVID vaccination rates, especially for younger residents ⋆ Michigan Advance


A line of people is waiting to enter the House of Dank, a popular cannabis company, in northeast Detroit on April 20th. Senator Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) said city officials should consider partnering with such companies to encourage more people to take the COVID-19 vaccination. | Ken Coleman

With Detroit struggling to meet the challenge of getting more residents immunized against COVID-19, significantly fewer Motor City residents ages 16-29 have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine than the national average.

As of Tuesday, only 10% of Detroit’s 16-29 year olds had been vaccinated against coronavirus.

City and state record their demographic information differently. Nationwide19.5% of 16 to 19 year olds received at least one dose of vaccine; 25.2% of 20 to 29 year olds received at least one dose of vaccine.

Similarly, Detroit ranks well below the national average when it comes to the total percentage of residents vaccinated. Michigan is 45.6%; while Detroit is only 26.9%.

Starting April 5, all Michigan residents aged 16 and over will be eligible to receive the vaccine. The state’s goal is to immunize 70% against COVID and deliver more than 6 million administered doses this week.

Of the 161,634 doses administered by Monday at Ford Field, a federally identified regional vaccination site in the city, only 11,375 – or 7% total – went to Detroit residents, according to site officials.

Westland’s Ken Brake had his first COVID-19 vaccination at Ford Field in Detroit’s Ken Coleman on March 23, 2021

“Every single Detroit resident aged 16 and over can be vaccinated,” Mayor Mike Duggan repeated at a press conference on Monday.

Regarding Ford Field’s low numbers, he suggested that Detroit residents would rather visit neighborhood locations than travel downtown and run the risk of paying between $ 5 and $ 10 for parking.

He also announced that 11 locations across the city will be available for walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations. Before that, they had to call and make an appointment. Multiple locations include public schools as well as a leisure center and two community centers.

“We have to change our strategy,” said Duggan.

Duggan said his administration is continuing talks with “trustworthy voices in 16- to 35-year-olds,” but he doesn’t think Detroit vaccination rates are significantly different from other communities in the state and nation.

But some Detroit leaders are concerned.

COVID-19 vaccination center at the Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church in Detroit | Ken Coleman

“Vaccine hesitation is real,” said Bishop Edgar Vann, pastor of Second Ebenezer Baptist Church since 1977. “I think when it comes to black young adults, a lot of them are decidedly against taking the back seat.” I think that’s where the slowdown is taking place. “

“There will have to be a big push to reach young adults,” added Vann. “It has to be people of their own generation who speak their own language to make the appeal, which is completely different from anything we would say.”

The second Ebenezer Baptist has been offering a vaccination every Saturday since January by appointment. In Detroit, about 26% of 30 to 64 year olds were vaccinated. About 54% of Detroiters 65 and over have been vaccinated.

A total of 18.8% of Michigan’s 30 to 39 year olds were vaccinated. 21.8% of 40 to 49 year olds were vaccinated; and 36.6% of those 50 to 64 were vaccinated.

Denise Fair, the 37-year-old director of the city’s health department, took the vaccine publicly in early December to promote its safety. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, a 38-year-old Detroit resident, received his first dose Saturday.

The 35-year-old Senator Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) is also vaccinated. He said the vaccination percentage is low among younger Detroiters because there hasn’t been enough concerted effort to hit the age group they are in.

“I would try to get vaccine doses at the weed shop [distributed]”Said Hollier.” In the liquor store. Places where you know people will be. The recreation centers. All summer school places. “

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Hollier also points out that churches are more of a draw for seniors and that much of the early news and guidance was aimed at getting older residents tested and vaccinated. He believes that messaging needs to be expanded to include young adults. Hollier was a guest vocalist on WJLB-FM’s “The Bushman” radio show aimed at listeners ages 18 to 35.

“People always want to pretend that young people aren’t making good decisions,” said Hollier. “You just make decisions about different inputs. If your life expectancy is 30 versus 75, why retire? If you only see a doctor when you need urgent help, why should you have a family doctor? “

Rachel Kabala, a 16-year-old student at Detroit Benjamin Carson High School

However, Rachel Kabala, a Detroit Benjamin Carson Academy student who received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last week, said the Messages telling younger people to take the vaccine begins to take hold.

The 16-year-old junior, president of the Detroit Public Schools Community District student organization, believes more young adults will take the vaccine as more education about its benefits is heard.

“The people I know are definitely positive about taking the vaccine,” said Kabala, whose goal is to attend the University of Michigan. “It is important so that we can leave this virus behind us.”

According to the survey, Detroiters want more COVID aid

A new poll shows Detroit residents have made coronavirus relief a top priority for the federal government.

Under the direction of Wayne State University, 621 Detroit residents were asked to select from a list of 10 priorities which they believed should be the top priorities for President Joe Biden. Of the 571 respondents, 225 or 39% said it should be COVID-19 – which makes it the top answer.

The WSU Center for Urban Studies has partnered with the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus to “better understand the priorities of Detroit residents and find meaningful solutions to community problems.” It was carried out between January 15th and March 1st. Respondents reached 953 people, 678 of whom confirmed they were Detroit residents, respecting geographical balance.

Given the survey results and residents’ concerns about COVID-19, why are more urban residents stop taking the vaccine?

Keith Williams, chairman of the Black Caucus Democratic Party in Michigan, said the largest segment of Detroit that has resisted vaccination is the 16- to 35-year-old age group.

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He said he thinks it was largely created by an herbalist, pathologist, and naturalist named Dr. Sebi and, to a lesser extent, Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. Sebi, born Alfredo Bowman in Honduras, after a website Over the past few years, several high profile hip hop artists like the late Nipsey Hussle have promoted his anti-vaccination messages in their recordings and in their public statements.

“I tell my brothers and sisters in Africa … if they develop a vaccine, be careful,” Farrakhan said said in July 2020 and expanded its warning to include African Americans.

“Don’t take their medication,” he added. “We need to call a meeting of our seasoned virologists, epidemiologists, and students of biology and chemistry. We have to give ourselves something better. There are 14 therapies that we can use to treat it. The virus is a plague from heaven. The only way to stop it is to go to heaven. “

Williams said Detroiters want more than just access to the vaccine, they want more funding to address structural issues that have always been there but have increased during the pandemic. This included professional training, health care, access to business credit, and much more.

In March, Biden signed another COVID relief bill that provided more than $ 10 billion to the Michigan state government, schools, and local governments.


Dusty Kennedy